With an exceptional performance yesterday and throughout the tournament, Morocco was able to qualify for the quarterfinals over a glorious win against Spain, which is currently ranked seventh in the world based on the latest FIFA Men’s world ranking. This has come as a shock for several people across the world, but we have to admit that the Moroccan team’s performance in their first match against Croatia was indeed a solid one. Consequently, the team was able to overcome their next opponent, Belgium, who is the second-ranked team in the world. They then beat Canada 2-1 to finish top of their group with the whole world mesmerized by the quality of football they were playing.
After a goalless draw in their match against Spain, which was played out at the Education City Stadium, the Atlas Lions held their nerve in a penalty shootout to reach the last eight of the tournament for the first time in their history. While the odds were in favor of Spain to book a place in the World Cup’s last eight, the whole Arab and North African region’s hopes were betting on Morocco to take the win.
Moreover, Moroccan team manager Walid Regragui showed utter class in his strategy against La Roja (the Spanish team). Regragui had to be given credit as he played with a strategy that disabled the Spanish team from scoring through the “park-the-bus” tactic that saw the Atlas Lions focus on defense and utilize counterattacks, using the speed of Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri. While Morocco and Spain were not able to score any goals, the match had to be ended with a thrilling penalty shootout.
To seal the win, Abdelhamid Sabiri, Hakim Ziyech, and Achraf Hakimi all were successful in their penalty shootouts. Additionally, Sevilla’s Yassine Bounou was able to save two penalties. He was definitely the most valuable player (MVP) of the match with those key saves.
After the game, Morocco raised the Palestinian flag in honor of their victory in order to show solidarity with the fellow Arab country that has taken much of press at the World Cup this year. This incident, if nothing else, demonstrated how much Morocco is currently the region’s hero and demonstrated that the Arab world will never cease to astound other countries with its elegant football and noble stance on human rights.
Morocco will now take on Portugal, who won 6-1 over Switzerland yesterday despite having Cristiano Ronaldo sitting on the bench due to injury. Regardless of the outcome, we are sure that the Atlas Lions will put on a show that will honor their nation and the entire Arab world.